Home Part of States Newsroom
News
Two out-of-state companies picked to lease parts of Ohio public land for fracking

Share

Two out-of-state companies picked to lease parts of Ohio public land for fracking

Feb 27, 2024 | 5:00 am ET
By Megan Henry
Share
Two out-of-state companies picked to lease parts of Ohio public land for fracking
Description
COLUMBUS, OH — FEBRUARY 26: Protesters from Save Ohio Parks during the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission meeting to pick the winning bids for drilling under a state park and two wildlife areas, February 26, 2024, at the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety, Charles D. Shipley Building Atrium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original article.)

The Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission picked the “highest and best” bidders to lease parts of a state park and two wildlife areas for fracking Monday.

West Virginia-based Infinity Natural Resources had the winning bid to drill in Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County. Infinity Natural Resources — which has more than 120 wells in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — leased two parcels at Salt Fork for $58.4 million.

Texas-based company Encino Energy had the top bid for Valley Run Wildlife Area in Carroll County and Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County.

Encino leased three different parcels at Valley Run Wildlife Area for $1.05 million and leased one parcel at Zepernick Wildlife Area for $231,692. According to their website, Encino Energy is the largest oil producer and second-largest producer of gas in Ohio. 

Fracking is the process of injecting liquid into the ground at a high pressure to extract oil or gas. It has been documented in over 30 states, according to the Center for Biological Diversity

Monday’s meeting now paves the way for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to lease the parcels to the companies. OGLMC committee member Matthew Warnock was the lone no vote on the bid for Salt Fork. Under state law, OGLMC must pick the “highest and best bid.”

Two out-of-state companies picked to lease parts of Ohio public land for fracking
COLUMBUS, OH — FEBRUARY 26: Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission Chair Ryan Richardson (second from left) and commissioners Stephen Buehrer, Jim McGregor, Matthew Warnock and Michael Wise before a meeting to pick the winning bids for drilling under a state park and two wildlife areas, February 26, 2024, at the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety, Charles D. Shipley Building Atrium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

Each lease agreement includes a 12.5% royalty paid to the state for production.  

The total lease bonuses for ODNR properties selected by the commission amount to $59.7 million. 

Ohio’s OGLMC started soliciting bids from companies to drill and frack under state parks and wildlife areas on Jan. 3 and the deadline was Feb. 4. 

On Friday, a Franklin County Court of Commons Pleas judge denied the emergency stay environmental groups had tried to stop OGLMC from leasing parts of Ohio’s land for drilling. 

Reactions to bids

Terri Sabo was in tears when the commission voted to accept the Salt Fork bid. 

“It’s just a very sad day,” said Sabo, who has lived just outside Salt Fork for the past four decades. “My biggest immediate concern, obviously, is the loss of the park to deindustrialization. I’ve really seen it grow and come back.”

All Ohioans will be directly affected by fracking, said Lorraine McCosker, steering committee member of Save Ohio Parks. 

“It’s going to be changing the climate even further,” she said. 

Monday’s meeting was “highly disappointing, but not unexpected,” said Cathy Cowan Becker, steering committee member of Save Ohio Parks. 

“You are selling your state parks off to the highest bidder,” she said. 

More than a dozen protestors were at Monday’s meeting shouting “Shame,” “Do you realize what you are doing to tourism in Ohio?” and “You are selling my land to frack” while the commission voted on the bids. 

Others held up signs that said “Gov. DeWine, don’t be a climate criminal” and “Fracking injects toxins into mother earth.” 

A handful of people dressed in sackcloth to represent drought, disease, extinction and climate chaos as part of a demonstration during the meeting. 

However, not everyone mourned Monday’s meeting. Ohio Oil and Gas Association President Rob Brundrett said this is a big win for Ohio.

“The decisions made by the Commission were the culmination of over a decade of work by the state to ensure a fair and equitable process,” he said in an email. “Our members are committed to responsibly developing these resources in the safest and most environmentally sound manner using today’s most advanced technologies.”

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on X.